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Bard College Students Present Symposium "Sri Lanka: Creative Media in a Time of Conflict"

Multidisciplinary Conference Features Films, Poetry, Discussion, Art Exhibition


Eleanor Davis
Film still courtesy of Lisa Kois from her film "The Art of Forgetting."  Image Credit: Lisa Kois

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— Bard College presents “Sri Lanka: Creative Media in a Time of Conflict” on Friday, November 7th at the Milton and Sally Avery Center for the Arts. The symposium aims to highlight the vitality of creative expression and artistic documentation in the midst of Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war; it includes two film screenings, a poetry reading, and art exhibition. Students from the

Literature, Studio Arts, and Human Rights Programs as well as graduate students from Bard's Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture, will participate in the conference.

Participants include: Thomas Keenan, director of the Human Rights Project, Bard College; Kristin Scheible, professor of religion, Bard College; Edie Meidav, novelist and professor of creative writing, Bard College; Indran Amirthanayagam, poet and diplomat; Lisa Kois, human rights lawyer and director of the film The Art of Forgetting; Nadia Haji Omar ('08), artist; and Helene Klodawsky, director of the film No More Tears Sister.

The program begins at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Reservations are encouraged. To make a reservation please send an e-mail to

The program is organized by The Bard–Sri Lanka Project, with the support of the Human Rights Project, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Office of the Vice President of the College, and Trustee Leader Scholar Program.

Schedule of Events:

No More Tears Sister: Director’s Cut
Film screening by Helene Klodawsky, 1:30–3 PM
Ottaway Theater

 The Splintered Face: Tsunami Poems
Poetry reading by Indran Amirthanayagam, 3:30 PM
Followed by a talk with Edie Meidav
Ottaway Theater

The Art of Forgetting
Film screening by Lisa Kois, 4:30–6 PM
Followed by a talk with Thomas Keenan
Ottaway Theater

Sri Lankan vegetarian dinner, 6:30–7 PM
RSVP is kindly requested
Special screening of Crossing Fires

“The Vitality of Creative Media in a Time of War”
Discussion with participants, 7–8 PM
Moderated by Kristin Scheible
Ottaway Theater

Art installation by Nadia Haji Omar
Reception with refreshments, 8–10 PM
New works in video, painting and photo
Integrated Arts Studio

About Our Guests:

Indran Amirthanayagam
is a poet, essayist, translator, and member of the United States Foreign Service. His first book, The Elephants of Reckoning (Hanging Loose Press, New York), won the 1994 Paterson Poetry Prize. His poem Juarez won the Juegos Florales of Guaymas, Sonora in 2006. Other books include: El Infierno de los Pajaros (Resistencia, Mexico City), El Hombre que Recoge Nidos (Resistencia, Mexico City), and Ceylon R.I.P. (International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka). Indran has been a NYFA fellow in poetry as well as a grantee of the U.S./Mexico Fund for Culture for his translations. He is a native of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, and former professor at the New School. Indran’s visit to Bard College will feature readings from his latest book, The Splintered Face: Tsunami Poems, and the discussion with Edie Meidav following the reading will explore the topic of poetry and diplomacy.

Nadia Haji Omar is a recent graduate of the Studio Arts Program at Bard College and a native of Colombo, Sri Lanka. She received the Jane Fromm Yacenda Scholarship in the Arts in 2007. Her latest paintings, video, and photo works explore private life and social identity in and out of Sri Lanka. She lives in Brooklyn.

Helene Klodawsky is a Montreal-based filmmaker who has been writing and directing social, political, and arts documentaries for 20 years. No More Tears Sister is an award-winning feature documentary about Dr. Rajani Thiranagama, the former-Tiger human rights activist who was assassinated in her native Sri Lanka. The film has circulated widely in international festivals, from London’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival and the Jerusalem International Film Festival to Hot Docs, and opened PBS’s signature documentary series POV in 2006. Helene’s first fiction feature film premiered in New York at the Museum of Modern Art last March. The screening of No More Tears Sister at Bard College will feature Helene’s original 84-minute director’s version, with never-before-seen footage.

Human rights lawyer, writer and filmmaker Lisa Kois has been working in Sri Lanka for the past twelve years. Her new documentary, The Art of Forgetting, attempts to break the silence and statistical anonymity that characterizes the dominant discourses of war by foregrounding the personal stories of people whose lives have been forever altered by political violence. The film documents oral histories and places in Sri Lanka that have been inaccessible for decades. The project is meant to engage in what Alex Boraine, director of the International Center for Transitional Justice, calls the “intentional act of remembering.” Her other work, Crossing Fires, is an independently produced television series that explores issues of women and armed conflict. The episode highlights young women in Sri Lanka who are using music to take a political stand and features the musician M.I.A.

For more information visit our website or contact Jen Lemanski at 703 376 7578, or email jl199@bard.ed.


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This event was last updated on 10-31-2008